Updated: Sep 8, 2018
YES, YES and YES
We have the bikes, the gear is available and we can go the distance. Free Routes are starting to pop up across the country and the Westen Cape government is also getting involved. All big plusses for a great bikepacking future here in South Africa!
Adventure cyclists from around the world have been visiting South Africa for years bikepacking our beautiful country. Groups from Namibia cross our boarders regularly for bikepacking adventures.
With a growing interest in bikepacking here in South Africa, brands such as Specialized have started expanding their offerings locally with bike offerings such as the Diverge and Sequoia.
With all this happening in the background the big question is if South Africans are in the loop of this new type of adventure riding?
MY POINT OF VIEW
With a cycling market focused on racing and major events that cost an arm and a leg most riders have a bucket list of events they might not be able to afford.
What free to ride options do you have?
Most bikepacking routes are free to ride single/multi day overnight routes.
Bikepacking is just another way to take your hard earned money, couldn't be further from the truth. Instead it is about taking control of your own adventures, riding your bike where and when you choose to and enjoying nature and the freedom it offers.
HOW DO I START BIKEPACKING?
Take your existing mountain bike, add some camping gear and ride an existing route or even plan your own.
WHAT IS THE INVESTMENT IN REAL MONEY?
You have to have a mountain bike, no surprize. Any hardtail will do the job not bought at your local supermarket.
CAMPING & GEAR
You will need a tent that you "can" buy at your local supermarket, compact sleeping bag and a self inflatable mattress.
Ther rest is clothing, and it does not have to be the latest top of the range cycling clothes. Everything else you already have at home such as toothpaste, soap, mobile phone.... you get the idea.
Although bikepacking bags are the way to go it is not a requirement for bikepacking and a DIY drybag tied to your bike is a budget conscious alternative to bikepacking bags.
The route you can plan on Google maps or download one of our free routes.
THAT THING HOLDING YOU BACK
Free routes are available, you already have a mountain bike, and minimal investment is needed for camping gear. Bikepacking is the alternative to paid events with huge adventure potential. Will South Africans hold back or embrace bikepacking?
For now it seems that there is cautious excitement towards this new type of adventure. What could hold us back? It might be crime statistics in our country? Don't let localized crime stop you from exploring a world of awesome nature. During my travels bikepacking I still need to encounter a situation where I felt unsafe. Still I suggest to always stay in groups and be vigilent while traveling.
Are we capable of doing long distances? The answer is yes!
Bikepacking is not about the time you take to complete a journey, it is about the journey and a mindset of "we'll get there when we get there".
Most bikepackers travel 100-150 km per day or less depending on the surroundings. I see clubs and groups riding between 50-140km in a morning. Completing the same daily distance while bikepacking should not be a challenge for most.
Start the bikepacking conversation today, share your thoughts and ideal bikepacking route.
Here is one of many family bikepacking stories, do some research online to find all the information you need to take your family on a bikepacking adventure.
I will keep my finger on the SA bikepacking pulse and do some more blog posts as things unfold.
"For now I am of the opinion that South Africa is showing great interest in bikepacking and have some catching up to do compared to the US and Europe. Maybe waiting with cautious excitement to see how things unfold. "